Militants kill seven Afghans carrying voter cards

SHOMALI PLAINS, Afghanistan - Militants killed seven Afghans carrying voter ID cards, while hundreds of rockets and other weapons were found Wednesday buried in the desert near Kabul, raising fears of attacks on the capital with landmark elections just days away.

NATO-led peacekeepers discovered the weapons in two caches hidden in a stony gully on the Shomali Plains, about 18 miles north of Kabul.

Some 200 rockets, three anti-aircraft rocket launchers, three anti-tank mines and two boxes of explosives were dug up and taken away to be destroyed. The weapons were found after a tip from a villager, said Col. Massimo Giraudo, an Italian commander.

Smugglers sneak weapons into Gaza

RAFAH, Gaza Strip - Palestinian gunrunners smuggled hundreds of assault rifles and pistols across the Egyptian frontier into Gaza, dealers and border officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The influx confirmed Israeli fears about giving up border control and could further destabilize Gaza.

Black market prices for weapons dropped sharply, with AK-47 assault rifles nearly cut in half to $1,300 and even steeper reductions for handguns.

News of the smuggling came as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tried to impose order following the Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza this week. Militant groups scoffed at a new Palestinian Authority demand that they disband after parliamentary elections in January, saying they would not surrender weapons.

U.S. refuses North Korean nuclear reactor demand

BEIJING - North Korea insisted Wednesday it should get a nuclear reactor to generate electricity in exchange for abandoning atomic weapons development, but the main U.S. envoy at disarmament talks said Washington and its partners have no intention of meeting the demand.

After his first one-on-one meeting with the North Korean delegation at this round of six-nation talks on the communist nation's nuclear program, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the sides ''did not make a lot of progress.''

Orangemen deny role in Belfast riots

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Catholics demanded sterner restrictions on the Orange Order, the Protestant brotherhood at the center of rioting this week in Belfast, after the group's leaders rejected any responsibility Wednesday for the street chaos.

Leaders of the 50,000-strong fraternal group staged their first news conference since Protestant rioting exploded across Belfast and several towns Saturday over a restricted Orange parade.

As the mayhem subsided Wednesday, the Police Service of Northern Ireland catalogued the statistical toll from four nights of rioting: 115 bullets fired at police positions, 146 homemade grenades hurled, 116 vehicles hijacked and burned, and 81 police officers wounded.

Court paves way for trial of Pinochet

SANTIAGO, Chile - The Supreme Court stripped Gen. Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution Wednesday, paving the way for a trial of the former dictator for his alleged role in the disappearance and killing of 15 dissidents during his 1973-90 regime.

The court voted 10-6 to strip the 89-year-old of the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as former president and authorize his trial in the ''Operation Colombo'' case, Chief Justice Jose Benquis said.

That case involved the slaying of 119 dissidents whose bodies were found in neighboring Argentina in 1975, but Pinochet would face charges for only 15 victims whose relatives filed a criminal suit against him.

Summit opens with Annan appeal

UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed Wednesday to world leaders marking the 60th anniversary of the United Nations to help restore confidence in the world body and to act together to meet the challenges of the new century.

Addressing more than 150 presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, Annan said a document they will adopt at the end of the three-day summit was ''a good start'' but not ''the sweeping and fundamental reform'' he proposed. He called for urgent action on the tough, unresolved issues.

Pakistan questions suspects found in al-Qaida hide-out

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani counterterrorism experts are questioning 21 suspects captured at an al-Qaida hide-out for clues about remnants of the terror network and the Taliban, an intelligence official said Wednesday.

The suspects - who intelligence official said include Afghans - were captured this week during the biggest-ever military operation in North Waziristan, a strategic tribal region in North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.

- From wire reports